First and foremost we would like to reassure you that when used correctly, dog crates are a great aid for training your puppy or dog. They should never be used as a punishment and you should never discipline your dog while it is in the crate. Your dog should see its crate as a 'safe haven' and should not associate it with any negative experiences. You cant lock your dog in a crate and just expect the whole concept to work - it won't. You will need time and patience to introduce the crate to successfully ensure your dog sees it as his home and special place. Here are a few guidelines:
There are many types of crate on the market from wire to material, even wood. We would recommend a wire crate with a side and front opening door for easy access and cleaning. We would not recommend a material crate for puppies as they are likely to chew it and it is harder to clean if any accidents occur. They can suit older dogs that have finished their chewing stage as they provide a good level of comfort and after all, you want your dog to love its new space. Your crate should be large enough to allow your dog to stretch out flat on his side without being cramped and to sit up without its head hitting the top. The crates we stock also fold flat for easy storage.
Crate Training for Puppies
It is likely that at some point, your puppy will have an accident in its crate. Do not punish it. Immediately clean any accidents in the crate with a special odour remover cleaner. This will help to prevent repeat soiling. If you have children, they should be made aware that they should leave the puppy alone when it goes into its crate. The crate should be a place where the puppy feels it is safe and can sleep without being disturbed.
How To Start Crate Training
We have put together a few tips to help you get started. Every dog is different and some may be quicker to learn than others so please be patient!
Leave the crate door open and leave treats in its bed to encourage the dog to go into the crate of its own accord.
When the dog will lie in its crate, start to close the door for just a few minutes so it gets used to the door being shut. If the dog panics, open the door again. Persevere until it is happy to have the door closed.
Once the dog is comfortable with you being around with the door closed, try leaving the house for a few minutes, remembering to praise your dog when you return. By crating while you are at home AND while you are gone, your dog becomes comfortable in the crate and not worried that you will not return, This should help prevent separation anxiety in later life.
Do not let the dog out the crate while it is barking or they will think barking is the key to opening the door. If your dog appears very distressed, you should let it our but if it is just barking it should stay. Wait until the baring or whining has stopped for at least 10 seconds before opening the door and praise.
Although the crate is the dogs 'safe place' it must not be off limits to humans completely. You should still be able to reach inside to clean, fill bowls etc.
When Not To Crate
We think that crates are a great training aid when used correctly but there are also times when we would not advise a crate. You have to be careful with rescue dogs. As you can imagine, a lot of rescue dogs have not had the best start and some will have been shut away. They will see being shut in a crate as a punishment no matter how nice you make they crate inside so for these dogs, crating is not an option. Certain dogs may be able to learn that the crate is a safe place, a young dog for example but we would recommend you avoided a crate with rescue dogs if needs be. Your local rescue centre will be able to help you and inform you how the dog was treated prior to you adopting him as each dog is different.
Maybe assigning a corner of a room to the dog may be an option so he does not feel shut in, but has his own area.
Again we must stress, NEVER put your dog in a crate as a punishment. It is not what they were designed for.
We hope this helps you but feel free to ask any questions.